What Is Overlanding?

Have you ever had dreams of traveling and exploring the country? Maybe you think about packing up your belongings in your vehicle and taking a journey to remote destinations. If you have, you’ve probably been thinking about Overlanding, but what exactly is that? 

Overlanding is a vehicle-based, self-reliant form of travel that’s purpose does not solely rely on arriving at a destination, but the act of exploring and seeing the world. An Overlanding excursion can last anywhere from a week to a few years and is popular among travel and outdoor lovers. 

In this article, we’ll be going in-depth into the history of Overlanding, its purpose, and how you can get started. If you’re interested in learning more about these topics, keep on reading. 

History and Origins of Overlanding 

While Overlanding is a relatively new practice in the U.S, it’s been popular on many continents for decades. 

The term Overlanding can be traced back to Australia’s outback when farmers had to move their cattle across large distances when the seasons changed. Once workers began building highways along the outback, the phrase Overlanding was used to describe their journey across the outback.

To this day, Australians still practice Overlanding on these roads, and the act of Overlanding is just as popular as ever. The first-ever Overlanding activity for leisure in the U.S can be traced back to George A. Wyman, who rode his motorized bike from New York to San Francisco. 

There have also been multiple instances of groups participating in peaceful Overlanding gatherings and explorations. The Commonwealth Expedition or Comex 3 still holds the record for the largest Overlanding expedition of all time. 

It’s clear that Overlanding has a large and diverse history, and many people are interested in taking these types of journeys for many different reasons. Overlanding can be a very fulfilling activity that motivates travelers to reach some of the many goals they may have. 

Whether it’s traveling a large distance, becoming immersed in a peaceful and like-minded community, or becoming closer to nature, Overlanding can be beneficial for many reasons. 

How to Start Overlanding 

If you’re interested in Overlanding, there are a few factors you should keep in mind before diving into this practice. 

Approach With the Right Mindset 

Not only do you need to invest in the correct gear and equipment before you begin, but you need to check your mindset in the beginning as well. 

Overlanding can be hard work, and you should be aware of all it entails and every issue you may face while you’re out on the road.

When Overlanding, you’re either subjected to the confines of your vehicle, or wherever you’ve settled in outdoor wise. It’s important to mentally and emotionally prepare for the conditions you may have to deal with while on the road.

Factors such as flat tires, extreme temperatures and weather, and difficulties with your gear are issues you may face while Overlanding. Not only is it important to prepare for these kinds of malfunctions, but approaching this adventure with the right mindset is key to fully enjoying yourself and going with the flow. 

Invest In the Best Overlanding Vehicle 

Since Overlanding consists of traveling on wheels, you’ll want to invest in the safest and most functional Overlanding vehicle available. 

Overlanding vehicles can consist of trucks, motorcycles, SUVs, and beyond. Anything built with the ability to successfully drive off-road can be the ideal Overlanding vehicle. 

Thankfully, there isn’t one correct type of vehicle you need to correctly begin Overlanding. Multiple different means of transportation available will allow you to travel off-road to any destination that you please. 

Consider Your Reason for Overlanding 

Before you head out and start exploring big and open spaces, consider your reasoning for beginning Overlanding.

Are you looking to see certain parts of the world, or maybe find a network of like-minded people to connect with? Take what you’re looking for into account, and do your best to make it happen before you hit the road.

Are you looking to see and explore a certain area? Take the time to map out multiple routes, decide how long you’d like to stay, as well as what you’d like to do when you get there. 

Are you looking to meet and connect with other overlanders during your journey? There are plenty of Overlanding groups online that post updates about meetups, and you can easily make friends and even traveling buddies this way. 

It’s important to take what you want before you begin Overlanding into account. So once you’ve mapped out a plan and you know exactly what you’re looking for, your Overlanding experience will become so much more memorable and worthwhile.

What to Bring When Overlanding  

When unexpected situations arise, it’s important to have all the correct gear to quickly fix any issue you may have. Below, we’ll go over some of the essentials you may need to pack for your Overlanding quest.


As we mentioned earlier, you’re bound to face unexpected issues and malfunctions while you’re Overlanding. Things will break and will require maintenance, so it’s important to have specific tools on hand.

For example, a tire patch kit is a very smart investment when you’re on the go. Basic hand tools will also keep you out of trouble if you’re stuck in an unfortunate situation. It also wouldn’t hurt to have a pair of jumper cables on board just in case. 

These are just some of the most basic tools you may need when you experience issues during your journey. It’s better to be over-prepared than under-prepared because you never know what situation may present itself to you. 


While you may choose to sleep the majority of your nights in your vehicle, there will be times that it’s crowded with gear. 

Having a tent is a great alternative, and there are plenty of easy to assemble tents that take little to no setup or tear downtime. If you don’t plan to sleep in your vehicle, a tent will be your best bet to receive a good night’s sleep in a safe and controlled environment. 

A roof-mounted tent or a bed tent is most likely your best bet when it comes to using the correct kind of shelter during the night while Overlanding. 

First Aid Kit 

You never know what kind of conditions you’ll be faced with, so keeping a first aid kit on hand is definitely important. 

Hopefully, you’ll never be faced with a situation where you must use your first aid kit, but not having one at all can be potentially dangerous if you were to become injured. 

Cargo Storage 

With Overlanding, you’ll definitely have a lot of stuff on hand, and it’s important to organize your materials, so you don’t become overwhelmed. 

It’s also key to have storage containers in order to keep everything secure and in one place, so as not to have all your items flying around while you’re traveling off-road. 

You can’t go wrong with having a handful of storage compartments on hand, which will cut back on clutter and keep your vehicle organized. This, in turn, will allow you to enjoy the Overlanding experience more, while all your items are put away neatly and are accounted for. 


Overlanding is a vehicle-based exploration/adventure phenomenon that is increasing in popularity and we discussed many factors you should be aware of before you begin your Overlanding journey. 

Now that you have all the information you need to start planning out your next Overlanding journey, don’t forget to pack all the essentials, and most importantly, have fun.

Jeremy Hoxie

Born and raised in beautiful Northern Michigan, I've have spent two decades enjoying everything the outdoors has to offer. When not working on RigForge, I spend my time Overlanding and tackling off-road trails while sharing my experiences and testing gear along the way. My current rig is a 2013 Jeep JKU Moab.

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